Friday, January 11, 2013

8 o’clock

( This  poem is based on Load shedding or Rolling blackout which is an intentional power shutdown for a fixed period of time almost everyday. )

We all follow a daily routine,
rarely it changes rarely we try.
Similar was this house,
To many others in India,
Where time stopped for none and,
None stopped for time.

But it was, when the clock struck- ‘8’,
that things would change.
Women stopped cooking,
men stopped working,
children closed their books.

Old Amma*  ended her prayers,
Afterall the clock read- ‘8’.
Candles were lit,
to welcome the prince-
The Prince of darkness indeed.

The family of ten was out in the garden,
With chairs,
snacks and paper fans of course.

First ten minutes were devoted,
to a never ending debate,
Akhir*, whom to blame for this plight”
Said  the chacha*on the right.
“the Government or the people?”

Just then maamiji *brings up an issue,
Which wasn’t an issue till then.
It is then debated
and discussed by all.

When discussions become arguments,
Bold maamiji diverts attention,
to an issue a family member faced that day,
We knew half an hour has passed when old Amma serveshot kheer*
And after that was time for,
Jokes, pranks and riddles- the entire family enjoyed.
But just in a while the rusty fans,
creaked again,
And the house lit again,
within seconds everyone was inside,
and the pendulum started its work again.
The house was back to ‘normal’ in a while.

Amma* said that this routine would change someday,
The fan would work for 24 hours a day.
But then will it be the same ,
When its 8’o clock again?

* OldAmma: literally old mother/ here grandmother
* Akhir: afterall
* chacha: Uncle 
* maamiji:Aunt
* kheer: traditional SouthAsian sweetdish
* Amma: mother



- Devika Nair

There was silence suddenly in a country which had perhaps forgotten what it meant. War for freedom, that's what they called it. Day or night the sound of birds chirping and that of the wind blowing was muted by the sounds of explosions. Bullet shots on the walls, blood stains on the roads and corpses carried around became nothing but a part of the daily routine for the people here. But the silence only lasted for a minute. Just before people could feel relieved, an explosion echoed from miles away then followed even larger explosions cries.

"It is all back to 'normal'" She whispered to herself as she read the holy book inside the roofless and partially destroyed shelter she called- home. But in those loud cries, suddenly, she recognized a voice. Her eyebrows twitched and she waited for the voice again. This time she heard it was clear, clearer than ever. It was her sister, the only one. She dropped the holy book she had held and ran out chasing the voice. But it was too late.

Just as she had assumed the war has engulfed her little princess. The sight was horrific. Before doing anything her mind forced her to pray. 'God let not such a crime happen to anyone on earth' She then looked at her sister corpse. Her eyes were wet. Those eyes that are never wet had just found a chance.

As tears rolled down her cheek her heart sank deeper. Around her yet continued the fierce war, noise and violence, but she was quite. As she knelt down to feel her sister covered in blood, a shadow fell on her. He approached her faster every second. She looked up straight into his eyes, something women in this part of word are forbidden to do.

The moaning eyes were now filled with revenge as a sudden spark enlightened in her. 'God let this not happen to anyone on earth' She prayed a again and fetched for the nearest weapon. The man, she realized,  was unarmed yet she prayed for luck to be on her side. Raising the pistol she gained courage to say a few words on his face.

"We were on neither side of the war yet you destroyed our lives. You don't know what she means to me."

Before he could say a word, another firing occurred between the numerous explosions, only this time it was her.

She opened her eyes and just as she prayed, he spat blood and the bullet hit his chest. He fell down within seconds. A sense of joy surmounted her grief after all she thought she had brought justice to her sister. She knelt down and picked her sisters corpse. But as she took her first step, a hand clutched around her right ankle. She felt the warm blood with the touch. All the courage in her suddenly disappeared. But then she turned and looked at his blood- covered faced and then heard from in a painful voice,

"Even I was on neither sides of the war, yet you destroyed my life. You don't know what you mean to me"